CORPORATE SERVICES

POLICY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

16 November 2022

 

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Corporate Services Policy Advisory Committee

16 November 2022

Executive

23 November 2022

Council

7 December 2022

 

 

 

Will this be a Key Decision?

Yes

Urgency

Not Applicable

Final Decision-Maker

Council

Lead Head of Service

Georgia Hawkes, Director of Mid Kent Services

Lead Officer and Report Author

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

 

Each year Full Council has to approve the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the

following year. This report makes a recommendation on the scheme to be

implemented for 2023-24

 

This report will be considered by the Corporate Services Policy Advisory Committee before being passed to the Executive. The final decision on the scheme will be made by Full Council.

 

Purpose of Report

 

Recommendation for Decision

 

 

This report asks the Policy Advisory Committee to consider making the following recommendation to the Executive:

1.†† That the Council be recommended to agree that no changes be made to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the year 2023/24.

 

 

 

 



Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24

 

1.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

The four Strategic Plan objectives are:

 

         Embracing Growth and Enabling Infrastructure

         Safe, Clean and Green

         Homes and Communities

         A Thriving Place

 

We do not expect the recommendation will by itself materially affect achievement of corporate priorities.  However, the Council needs to balance the needs of low-income households with the wider interest of local taxpayers to ensure that vulnerable residents are protected whilst providing a scheme that is affordable.

 

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

Cross Cutting Objectives

The four cross-cutting objectives are:

 

         Heritage is Respected

         Health Inequalities are Addressed and Reduced

         Deprivation and Social Mobility is Improved

         Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability is Respected

 

The report recommendation supports the achievement of the Deprivation and Social Mobility cross-cutting objective by providing support to low-income households.

 

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

Risk Management

The risks associated with implementing and operating the scheme are not considered high. Endorsement of a scheme helps reduce the risk but the overall cost of the CTRS is subject to the risk of household incomes falling, as may be the case if the cost-of-living crisis leads onto an increase in unemployment.

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

Financial

The cost of the CTRS impacts on the Council Tax base and thereby the Council Tax yield. If the cost of awards were to increase, this would mean the Council Tax base and overall Council Tax income would reduce. Any change in the cost of the scheme is shared through the collection fund between the Council and preceptors.

 

Section 151 Officer & Finance Team

Staffing

We will deliver the recommendations with our current staffing.

 

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

Legal

Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 requires the Council to adopt a Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Schedule 1A of the Act requires the Council to consider each financial year whether to revise or replace its scheme.

The Act contains a statutory duty to consult on a proposed scheme, with guiding principles for fair consultation set out in case law. As there are no changes proposed for the 2023-24 scheme further consultation will not be necessary unless the scheme is not approved.

 

Interim Team Leader (Contentious and Corporate Governance)

Information Governance

The recommendation does not propose any changes that will impact differently on the personal information (as defined in UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018) the Council Processes.

Information Governance Team

Equalities

The recommendation does not propose a change in service therefore will not require an equalities impact assessment.

Equalities & Communities Officer

Public Health

 

 

We recognise that the recommendation will have a positive impact on population health or that of individuals.

 

Public Health Officer

Crime and Disorder

No impact

 

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

 

 

Procurement

No Impact

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Revenues and Benefits

 

Biodiversity and Climate Change

There are no direct implications on biodiversity and climate change.

 

 

Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager

 

 

2.††††† INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

2.1     The Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) was introduced in April 2013 as a replacement for Council Tax Benefit (CTB), a national scheme administered on behalf of the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP).

 

2.2     Since its introduction in April 2013, our local scheme has been reconsidered on an annual basis. In 2020 a full review and consultation was carried out to take account of the increase in claimants moving onto Universal Credit The consultation sought views on moving to a banded scheme from April 2021 for working age claimants.

 

2.3     Council Tax Reduction provides financial assistance in the form of a rebate on the Council Tax bill, the cost of the scheme generally reduced before the COVID pandemic. In 2020/21 there was an increase in claims due to the pandemic and the number of people claiming Universal Credit.

 

The figures below give the cost of the scheme to the public, in the amount of CTR awarded annually rather than collected as Council Tax.

 

2016/17 - £8,786,555

†††††† 2017/18 - £8,385,298
†††††† 2018/19 - £8,616,425
†††††† 2019/20 - £8,652,758
†††††† 2020/21 - £10,694,613
†††††† 2021/22 - £10,264,367
†††††† 2022/23 - £10,046,498 (estimated)

 

2.4     From April 2021, a new income banded scheme was introduced which has an in-built, simplified claiming process with wide income ranges. The new banded scheme means that frequent liability changes have been avoided, and revised bills are only being issued where income crosses into another earnings band. This has made it less cumbersome for customers and has allowed us to convey a relatively simple eligibility message to residents.

 

2.5     Feedback from the Customer Services team and Citizensí Advice has been positive with fewer enquiries being made about eligibility and understanding of the income banded scheme for households with no children, 1-2 children and 3 plus children.

 

2.6     Table 1 shows the banded scheme which awards a maximum of 80% support for those on a passported benefit. Bands 2 to 5 give a maximum award of between 65% and 10% based on the personís earnings. All other income is disregarded. An extra 5% support is given to those in Bands 2 to 5 if a disability benefit is in payment.

 

Table 1

Band

Household size and earnings threshold

Maximum Award

 

No Children

1 -2 Children

3+ Children

 

Band 1

*Passported/Max UC

*Passported/Max UC

*Passported/Max UC

80%

Band 2

Less than £316

Less than £387

Less than £441

65%

Band 3

£316 - 631.99

£387 - £774.99

£441 - £882.99

50%

Band 4

£632 - £947.99

£775 - £1,162.99

£883 - £1,324.99

25%

Band 5

£948 - £1,263.99

£1,163 - £1,550.99

£1,325 - £1,766.99

10%

 

 

*Passported in the table refers to legacy benefits (job seekers allowance, income support, employment support allowance) for customers who have not migrated to Universal Credit. †

 

 

3.   AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

3.1     To make no changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2023/24. The advantages of this are that claimants have got used to this simplified scheme, they are aware how much they need to pay. It also makes no change to the budget.

 

3.2     To revise the current scheme. This would require consultation with the other preceptors and with those affected by any changes. There could also be additional costs if the payment towards the administration of the scheme was withdrawn by the major preceptors.

 

 

4.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

4.1     That no changes be made to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the year 2023/24. †

 

4.2     This is the second year of the income banded scheme, and it may be advisable for two years to be completed before considering any changes.

 

 

5.       RISK

5.1    The risks associated with implementing and operating the scheme are not considered high.

 



6.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

6.1     A public consultation was carried out in 2020 before the decision was taken to move to a banded Council Tax Reduction scheme. As changes to the scheme are not being recommended a public consultation is not mandatory.

 

6.2     The public consultation results were considered as part of the decision-making process when the banded scheme was put forward in 2020.

 

 

7.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

7.1     The scheme will be published on the website once a decision has been made by Full Council.

 

 

8.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

         Appendix 1: Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24 Ė to follow for Full Council

 

 

9.        BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

None